IZZY, a guide dog owned by the Cape Clear goat herder Ed Harper, has been given a reprieve.
Ed confirmed that Izzy, who will be 11 in December, was to be retired on Monday, September 24th last – the date that the Irish Guide Dog Association specified that her harness was to be returned.
But the 69-year old Ed – who has been blind since childhood and is a seasoned campaigner on environmental and political issues – mobilised the media and informed them he would be left without a replacement dog.
The association has since confirmed that Izzy’s retirement is to be postponed and a replacement dog for Ed is being sought in the UK.
‘This is great news,’ said Ed, ‘because the big difference now is that instead of Izzy being taken off the road, when she was still capable of work, and me being left with no dog for an indefinite and uncertain period of time, now I know they are doing something and I have got some idea of how long it will take.’
Ed said that if the association can source a 14-month-old dog in the UK, it will mean that it will already have been puppy trained and be ready for guide dog training here, something that could take a further four-to-eight months, depending on the dog.
‘But if I was really lucky and they got a dog tomorrow,’ Ed said, ‘I might have a replacement dog for Izzy in the New Year, but equally it could also be after Easter.’
Ed also confirmed that the acting manager of the Guide Dogs Association has plans to meet him in Skibbereen on Wednesday, October 10th next to discuss ‘a variety of things including what went wrong and what they have done to sort it out.’